I read recently that there are 539 premier league footballers and they are worth an average of £6.17m each (*).
That made me wonder, post-Pardew, exactly how we stand in relation to that statistic; whether we are performing in line with resources and how we sit in comparison to the other clubs in the premier league, both big and small.
With that in mind I priced up the 11 that began against Burnley and they cost us around £29m. When comparing cost with value, you could argue that the ‘worth’ of some (Sissoko and Colback) would be higher than ‘cost’, but conversely others (Colo, Riviere) would now be worth less, so let’s assume they balance out.
That £29m is an average of £2.64m per player – nowhere near the average premier worth of £6.17m.
But where do we stand against the other clubs in the league and their starting 11s on Thursday gone?
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Firstly, the 51,761 that braved the hangovers on Jan 1st to see us outplayed by Burnley was the second biggest attendance anywhere in Europe this year to date (Atletico nicked top spot by the odd 500). That’s big, so how do we rank against the other major teams in the prem?
Let’s start with Man City. Their keeper, Caballero, was ‘undisclosed’, so I got to number 2 on the teamsheet– Mangala – for whom they paid £31.8m – before they surpassed our entire team cost.
The story is depressingly similar as you work through the usual candidates (Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool). Spurs would be the worst of that bunch for me and their bench alone came in at £77.5m. So sorry lads, we aint playing on the same field as the ‘big’ boys!
How about the rest though? Let’s begin locally – Sunderland’s starting 11 cost £36.2m and even Hull (who Martin Keown refers to in ‘north east derby’ previews??) came in at £33.5 in cost terms. So we aren’t faring too well in the (somewhat stretched) north east…
What about our ‘peers’ – teams in the top half but maybe not that ‘big’? Well, Southampton are largely chronicled as having been decimated at the end of last season, so it came as a surprise to me that their starting 11 cost £60m – more than twice ours. And Clyne, Schneiderlin and Long weren’t playing….
Everton meanwhile came in only a whisker above our lads at £30m. But when you look at Stones, Lukaku and McCarthy who weren’t playing on Thursday, that’s another £50m worth.
What about past giants – mismanaged clubs where the chairman doesn’t give a monkeys anymore – surely that rings a bell?? Enter Aston Villa! Well, aside from the fact that Lerner at least stumped up millions before the coffers ran dry and still invites season ticket holders to the pub to get their opinions before every home match, their starting 11 totted up to £37m (and Delph wasn’t playing)…
And so the story continues – West Ham are doing well under Big Sam and paraded an 11 worth £44m (and that’s without a £12m striker in Valencia).
In fact, there were only Leicester, Palace, Burnley, West Brom (with £20m to spend and a shrewd new manager), QPR (surprisingly) and Swansea (also surprisingly, but Bony and Sigurdson weren’t on show) who had cheaper starting line-ups than ours.
So that puts us 14th in the table of ‘worth’. Then we make 7 changes from that starting 11 and expect(?) to do anything in the FA Cup!
So what does all that mean? That we are a big club, but only in attendance terms. And that the fare that’s been served up to us on 50,000 gates each and every week, in terms of worth, is pretty abject largely (surely) because our players are worth less than half – 42% to be exact – of the premier league’s average.
It’s obvious that Ashley is taking us for a massive ride in a cynical and sickening manner. What’s more of a debate is whether Pardew should have been expected to get us higher than 10th, when the disparities on spend are as stark as this. My jury is out but I’d be interested in your thoughts
(*) transfermarkt.co.uk and other sources – Daily Mail / goal.com / transferleague.co.uk /